Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Both Lily and Maddie are both into the Ever After High characters and books.  They've read them all.  Watched everything online.  Bought all the dolls (and they NEVER play with dolls).  They've both decided to be Madeline Hatter for Halloween.

So that led us to their birthday.  They liked the idea of a Wonderland-style tea party, so we went with that.  We decided to have the party at our house in the garage.

I started by getting tea cups from local thrift shops.  It was a little harder than I thought, and I ended up paying too much at the flea market for the nicest cups.  The idea was that the kids could take them as party favors, but in the mad rush of pickup only about 5 or so did.

The girls made a direction-less sign for the driveway.


We dyed marshmallows to make Cheshire Cat Tales.  Where they were resting on wax paper to dry is where the color came off.  I should have tried nonstick drying racks.  The white rabbit egg holder came from one of our thrift store visits.


Drink Me.  I had ordered some chocolate tea from the Republic of Tea, but the biggest hit turned out to be Davidson's French Vanilla tea, with lots of cream and sugar added.


For cake, I attempted to make a topsy-turvey Mad Hatter cake.  In addition to the complicated layering, this was my first time working with fondant.  Smoothing it down was a bit challenging, but I covered the imperfections with the dots.  The top layer was rainbow-colored cake batter, and the bottom was 4 layers of alternating chocolate and vanilla.  There's no pictures of the cut cake because gravity pretty much took over as I cut it.

We had a fabulous magician play the role of our Mad Hatter.  If you're looking for children's entertainment in the Triangle area, I highly recommend Happy Dan the Magic Man.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OBX or Bust

So, for our beach trip this year we headed to the Outer Banks instead of further south.  I hadn't been out there since 1998.  With 64 being completed, it's a lot shorter trip than I remember, so we definitely won't wait another 16 years to go back.  Since we were only there for 3 nights, we stayed at the Nags Head Inn instead of a cottage or condo rental.  We had a nice oceanfront room and an excellent view of the super moon.

On our way into town we stopped at Jockey's Ridge.  It was pretty warm, and the wind was whipping through the dunes, so the girls didn't want to stay out long.  We'd brought a kite, but they were just pretty uncomfortable, so we packed it up and headed over to the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Madeleine had been reading up on the Wright Brothers and was really enthusiastic about the memorial and the visitors center.  She wanted another book from the gift shop and read it throughout the trip.  She even put together a report when we got back home.

On Friday afternoon, we took a trip out past Corolla to see the Wild Horses.  We booked through Wild Horse Adventure tours.  The Hummer was pretty comfortable, and I only got woozy when we were back in some of the rough dunes.  We saw about 10 horses total, most of them back by the houses.

Saturday we spent most of the day at the beach.  The girls discovered Boogie boarding and invented a new frisbee game they call "Swashbuckler."

For dining out, our best bets were Mako Mike's and the Outer Banks Brewing Station.   You can't beat it when they have a playground out back for the kids while you're waiting for a table.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dance Camp

There was an 80's vibe this year.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I've never been a huge fan of redecorating.  Our house is pretty much the same as it was when we moved in 13 years ago.  We repainted a couple of rooms out of absolute necessity, but that's about it.

About 6 months ago, the girls started playing games online where you design your dream room or dream house.   Then when Madeleine got some money for her First Communion, she told me she wanted to find a desk with her money.

So, I introduced them to the IKEA website.  They were in heaven and spent a lot of time looking at the different rooms and options.  I told them that it would be a long drive (2 1/2 hours), but we could plan a trip if they were prepared.  Each girl made a list, measured space, and printed out what they wanted.

A couple weekends ago we had a free Saturday, so we headed out to the Charlotte Ikea.  We got there a little after 10, and I checked them into the play area just to get their wiggles out.  They are about 3" short of the max height, so I figured it might be their last time.

While they were there, I went through the showroom, noting where all the items on their list were.  When I checked them out, we went back to just those areas and wrote down the bin numbers.  We had lunch at the cafeteria.  While they enjoyed the chicken fingers and Swedish meatballs, their favorite was the huge slices of chocolate cake.

In addition to the items on their list, I let them pick out new comforters and bedding.  And I didn't make them pick matching ones. That was hard for me.  They're both pinkish, so that's close.

We were ready to pack up and head home by around 1, and they could not wait to get their room together.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Flowers for You!

I was trying to get a few things done this morning, and the girls were "bored." So I sent them outside with my camera.

Here's hoping you had a chance to stop and smell the flowers today.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Break Pt. 3 - Camp!

This year Camp Kanata's mother-daughter weekend fell on the second weekend of spring break, but after the great time we had last year, I knew we wanted to do it again this year.

We got there early Friday to learn fishing from the NC Dept. of Wildlife Resources.  They had these plastic fish where you could practice casting.

We didn't catch any real fish, so Maddie preferred the plastic.

This year our cabin was what is known as the "Hilton." The bunks were wood and screwed into the ceiling.  It was nice because that way there wasn't any creaking of metal bunk beds.  We also had a common area out of the sleeping quarters, which was great when Maddie was up and scared in the middle of the night.  Rather than awaken our entire cabin, we went out there, chatted on the couch, and she fell back asleep.

Saturday morning was early bird canoing.

Archery.  I like the bows at Kanata better than our local Y.

Making a Mommy and Me journal.

And a little bit of yoga by the lake.

Other favorites included mini-golf, and riflery.  It was warmer this year than last, and next year the girls are hoping to be old enough to do the Alpine Tower climb.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Break - Pt 2 - Hungry Like a Wolf

Our second spring break activity was not weather-dependent.  We headed a few miles down the road to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg.  We went to the one in Concord three years ago, so I kind of knew what to expect.  This year the girls were good enough swimmers I could trust them to not drown on their own, but I pretty much stayed in the water with them the whole time anyway.  So, no pictures of waterslides.

This is the outside of the Howlin'Tornado.  Lily and I went once.  I don't know how many times Eric and Maddie went.

Windiest game of mini golf ever.

This Great Wolf had a lazy river, which was a big hit with Lily.  It also had a body-boarding wave thing that Maddie really liked.  And we all enjoyed time in the family hot tub.  There wasn't much nearby to eat that wasn't Great Wolf.  So we made two lunch trips to Sonic and ate at the Lodge for dinner (the Loose Moose and one in-room pizza).  We managed to escape the evils of MagicQuest, but we promised Lily she could try it next time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Break Pt. 1 - Williamsburg

I'd been thinking about it for years, and wondering if the girls would enjoy a trip to Williamsburg.  I'd only been to Busch Gardens there and had never been to Colonial Williamsburg.  I went to their website first, but I wasn't really clear on how much there would be to do for kids.

We stayed at the Woodlands Hotel & Suites by the visitor center.  It was reasonably priced, convenient, and included breakfast.  I'd also read that you could rent costumes for the kids to wear during the day, and I talked that up to the girls prior to the visit.  I'd planned on buying tickets online ahead of time, but didn't do it.  If you're staying on site, don't.  Buying tickets with your hotel is WAY cheaper.  Like crazy cheaper.  They don't tell you the amount of the discount ahead of time, so you may not think it's a big deal.  But it is.  We easily saved $100 that way.

As the trip got closer, I really worried about the weather. We've had a cold, wet spring so far.  If you can even call it spring.  The downside to planning a trip like this is that it's not like we could just cancel and go another time either.

We drove up on Friday night, just beating the rain, and it rained all day Saturday.  We rented costumes at the Visitor's Center.  I don't think they were as fancy as the girls imagined they would be, but by later in the day they finally realized that Colonial people weren't wearing fancy ball gowns all the time.

Our first stop was the Governor's Palace, and we really enjoyed the tour.  Lily and Maddie were kind of confused by the people in character and kept asking me if there was really going to be a ball at the palace that night.

After the palace, we wandered around looking for something that was open.  There wasn't a lot going on in the rain.  We had on ponchos, and that made it really difficult to keep showing our passes.  The map got soaked and fell apart quickly.

We visited the blacksmith and tinsmith shops during lunch, so there wasn't a lot of activity there either.  I'd planned on having dinner in one of the taverns, but since we were there, we had lunch at the King's Tavern instead.

We did the tour of the capital building as well as the public goel as well.  The girls liked the cells the best.

What really saved the day for us was that I saw there would be a "Come Dance with Me" program at the Governor's Palace that night.  For an extra $19 each, we could attend a one hour "ball" and participate in the dances with the actors.  It was a great experience.  Not only being in the candlelit palace at night, but the girls got to participate in two group dances each and really thought it was something special.

I don't have any pictures from the "ball" that evening because it was so dark, but the ballroom is below.

When we went to bed Saturday night, the forecast was for a rain free morning on Sunday.  I was excited to go back and maybe see some of the revolution scenes.  Unfortunately, when we woke up, it was the opposite.  Torrential, pouring rain.  Sleet in your face rain.

So, we headed to the folk art museum, and the girls were very patient.  We looked at antiques and paintings most of the morning.  Lots of other parents were doing the same thing, and I wouldn't really recommend it for kids under 8.  They have one kid-friendly room with coloring, but we heard a lot of screaming.

I'd love to go back sometime when the weather's better.  Lily has checked out some of the American Girl Felicity books from the library, and was very interested in having some of the Colonial clothing.  If I'd paid full price for tickets and hadn't been able to go to the ball Saturday night, I would have been disappointed in the trip, but with the hotel discount we received on tickets and the dance experience, it was a good couple of days overall.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Family Fun Saturday

This weekend we did something I'd always wanted to do: take the girls to one of the Family Fun Saturday activities as the North Carolina Museum of Art.  In the past I've either gotten the date wrong for the activity or been too late to sign up (as the events are really popular).  So a few weeks ago when I saw the mention of it in the paper on a Friday, I saw that the event for that weekend was already sold out.  I looked for the next event and bought tickets anyway, figuring that the price wasn't bad enough that if something happened and we couldn't go, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Lucky us, as this weekend's event was sold out by the time it appeared in the newspaper on Friday as well.

The activity started off with a performance of OPQRS, Etc. by Raleigh Little Theatre.  Then we did a short tour of some sculptures in the museum, followed up by an activity.  In the studio, we were given some materials to build a sculpture with some of the elements we talked about during the tour.

Our sculpture will be on exhibit at the Raleigh Little Theatre during the run of OPQRS, Etc., and we were given free tickets to the preview showing of the play.  The girls are really excited to go.
I just wish the next couple months weren't so busy so we could attend more of these workshops.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Wonderland

We spent three days at home this week thanks to Mother Nature.  Wednesday school was closed, so I stayed home with the girls and worked from the kitchen table.  It started coming down around noon and started piling up right away.  In my 25 years in NC, I'd not seen snow accumulate that fast.  Quickly, everyone in the county got stuck as they were trying to get home from work.

We did some crafts and took care of Valentines for school.  I hope they let them pass them out this week.

We did three science experiments from Maddie's library book.


Snow fort

And the Friday their gymnastics school held an all-day camp, so they got to do that while we went back to work.  Much more fun than watching the ice melt.